Anthony Kuhn

Foreign Correspondent Anthony Kuhn is currently based in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he opened NPR’s first bureau in that country in 2010. From there, he covers Southeast Asia, and the gamut of natural and human diversity stretching from Myanmar to Fiji and Vietnam to Tasmania.

Prior to Jakarta, Kuhn spent five years based in Beijing as a NPR foreign correspondent reporting on China and Northeast Asia. In that time Kuhn covered stories including the affect of China’s resurgence on rest of the world, diplomacy and the environment, the ancient cultural traditions that still exert a profound influence in today's China, and the people's quest for social justice in a period of rapid modernization and uneven development. His beat also included such diverse topics as popular theater in Japan and the New York Philharmonic’s 2008 musical diplomacy tour to Pyongyang, North Korea.

In 2004-2005, Kuhn was based in London for NPR. He covered stories ranging from the 2005 terrorist attacks on London's transport system to the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. In the spring of 2005, he reported from Iraq on the formation of the post-election interim government.

Kuhn began contributing reports to NPR from China in 1996. During that time, he also worked as an accredited freelance reporter with the Los Angeles Times, and as Beijing correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review.

In what felt to him a previous incarnation, Kuhn once lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and walked down Broadway to work in Chinatown as a social worker. He majored in French literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He gravitated to China in the early 1980s, studying first at the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute and later at the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing.

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4:28pm

Thu May 21, 2015
Parallels

China Kicks Off 'Great Leap Forward' On The Soccer Field

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 7:07 pm

First-graders take soccer class at the Nandulehe Elementary School in suburban Beijing. The school is one of 20,000 that's launching a national soccer curriculum in the next five years. It's part of a government plan to raise China's soccer skills and eventually, China's leaders hope, host and win a World Cup.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

At an elementary school outside the Chinese capital, Beijing, first-graders practice controlling soccer balls under the instruction of American coach Tom Byer.

"When I clap, everybody's going to dribble to the circle, pull it back and go to the right. Go!" he says.

Regular soccer balls would practically come up to the kids' knees, so they practice with miniature ones instead.

But Byer, a native of New York, argues that even at age 6 or 7, the children are already late to the game.

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7:58am

Sat May 16, 2015
Asia

Tensions In South China Sea Loom Over Kerry Visit

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 11:23 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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4:30pm

Fri May 8, 2015
Parallels

For Chinese Tourists Behaving Badly, A Government Blacklist

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 10:45 am

Not exactly what that's for: Two tourists climb on a statue in Huayin, China, near Huashan, or Mount Hua, a famed tourist destination, in May 2013.
ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

"Ugly Americans" — tourists with appalling manners, loud voices, louder apparel and heaps of cultural insensitivity — have been an enduring stereotype for decades.

They are now facing a major challenge from their increasingly well-traveled Chinese counterparts.

Not only are the Chinese bemoaning their rudeness at home and abroad, the government has responded with new rules that took effect this week, aimed at keeping loutish travelers in check.

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7:49am

Sun May 3, 2015
Goats and Soda

China Promises $46 Billion To Pave The Way For A Brand New Silk Road

Originally published on Mon May 4, 2015 6:29 pm

Alyson Hurt NPR

Go to Xi'an city in northwest China, and you can still hear amateur musical ensembles playing court music from the Tang Dynasty. One of the tunes is about flowers — tulips imported over the Silk Road from Europe some 1,300 years ago.

The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that allowed the exchange of goods and ideas between Asia and Europe, including between the Roman Empire and China's Han Dynasty, towards the end of the first century B.C.

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5:07am

Tue April 21, 2015
Goats and Soda

Palm Oil Plantations Are Blamed For Many Evils. But Change Is Coming

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 3:18 pm

A forest worker fells palm trees on an illegal palm oil plantation in the province of Aceh, Indonesia.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Palm oil is in everything, from pizza dough and chocolate to laundry detergent and lipstick. Nongovernmental organizations blame it for contributing to assorted evils, from global warming to human rights abuses.

But in the past year, this complex global industry has changed, as consumers put pressure on producers to show that they're not destroying forests, killing rare animals, grabbing land or exploiting workers.

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4:45pm

Mon April 13, 2015
Asia

Chinese Women's Rights Activists Released From Jail

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 7:53 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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4:32pm

Thu April 9, 2015
Parallels

Cultural Revolution-Meets-Aliens: Chinese Writer Takes On Sci-Fi

Originally published on Fri April 10, 2015 12:37 pm

Best-selling author Liu Cixin's science fiction books are breaking new ground in China's literary world.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

China may have surged ahead in scientific prowess in recent decades, but it still lags behind other countries in science fiction.

Author Liu Cixin is starting to change that. The books in a popular trilogy published in China have each sold more than half a million copies. He has won nine Galaxy Awards, the Chinese equivalent of the Hugo Award. And a recent English-language translation is bringing his science-packed, futuristic vision to new audiences.

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3:28am

Thu April 9, 2015
Parallels

China's 'Barefoot Lawyer' And His Great Escape

Originally published on Thu April 9, 2015 11:04 am

In February 2006, I traveled to the farmland of eastern Shandong province to interview blind activist Chen Guangcheng. He had been abducted from Beijing by security agents and put under house arrest for the past six months.

When I arrived, Chen was closely guarded by men armed with clubs. I couldn't get into Chen's village, so I stayed with a family of peanut farmers nearby.

Their simple farmhouse was freezing cold on that snowy day. My hosts burned peanut shells in a stove to warm the place and cook us dinner.

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1:29pm

Fri April 3, 2015
The Two-Way

The World According To Xi Jinping (Or At Least His App)

Originally published on Fri April 3, 2015 4:47 pm

With the Xi Jinping app, you can read about the Chinese president's love of soccer and his recipe for progress in reform, economic development, rule of law and party governance.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

President Xi Jinping is sometimes described in foreign media as China's most powerful ruler since Mao Zedong. Mao may have had a cult of personality, but he didn't have his own app.

Xi does.

The app may not have in-app purchases such as provincial governorships. There are no banners or alerts about the latest officials to fall to anti-graft probes. And it certainly doesn't have any sections on factional intrigues titled "Clash of Clans." It is, however, downloadable in versions for iOS and Android phones and tablets.

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5:03pm

Fri March 27, 2015
Asia

In Regulating Outdoor Dancing, China Tells Seniors How To Bust A Move

Originally published on Fri March 27, 2015 8:07 pm

China's sports bureaucracy threatened this week to standardize dancing in public squares. Government committees have for decades drafted standardized eye exercises for squinting school children, calisthenics for office workers and Tai Chi routines for retirees.

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4:37pm

Sun March 22, 2015
Parallels

Founding Father Of Modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, Dies At 91

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 8:03 am

The crowd cheers as Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (center) arrives at the Marina Bay Floating Platform for the annual National Day Parade celebrations in Singapore on Aug. 9, 2012.
Calvin Wong Reuters/Landov

Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore and one of Asia's most influential politicians, has died at age 91, according to the Singapore Prime Minister's office.

During more than a half-century as Singapore's leader, he helped turn the city-state from a sleepy British colony into an affluent and efficient trading enclave, which enjoys the world's third-highest per capita GDP.

But he was also criticized for running a one-party, authoritarian regime under which critics were muzzled and political rivals hounded.

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4:55pm

Fri March 20, 2015
Asia

Renewed Fighting Creates Setback For Myanmar's Efforts To End Civil War

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 7:58 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DON GONYEA, HOST:

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3:24pm

Wed March 11, 2015
Parallels

As Palm Oil Farms Expand, It's A Race To Save Indonesia's Orangutans

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 10:40 pm

A baby orangutan wearing a diaper swings through the trees at the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program outside Medan, capital of Indonesia's North Sumatra province. The program takes mostly orphaned orangutans, nurses them back to health and releases them back into the wild.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

On a hillside on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, about 50 red-haired refugees are learning how to be orangutans once again. The country's booming palm oil industry has encroached on their habitats, leaving many of them homeless and orphaned.

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3:30pm

Wed March 4, 2015
Parallels

The Anti-Pollution Documentary That's Taken China By Storm

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 8:29 pm

Journalist Chai Jing used $160,000 of her own money to produce a documentary on China's air pollution problem.
Screenshot/Under the Dome

Two hundred million and counting: That's how many times a documentary about China's massive air pollution problem has been viewed online since the weekend. Environmentalists are hailing it as an eye-opener for Chinese citizens.

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5:29am

Sat February 21, 2015
Parallels

Indonesia's President: Fan Of Megadeth, Defender Of Death Penalty

Originally published on Sat February 21, 2015 9:20 am

Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspects an honor guard during a visit to Manila, Philippines, on Feb. 9. Widodo's supporters see him as very different from the strongmen who have long run Indonesia. But he has dismayed some of his backers with his strong support of the death penalty.
Jay Directo AFP/Getty Images

Indonesian President Joko Widodo took office a little more than 100 days ago, buoyed by sky-high expectations for political change. He's seen as very different from the strongmen and power brokers who have dominated the country for decades.

And he's certainly unconventional. He's an avid fan of heavy metal groups like Metallica and Megadeth. He's been photographed wearing black Napalm Death T-shirts and flashing the "devil's horns" hand sign.

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3:31am

Tue February 17, 2015
Parallels

So An American Comic Walks Into A Chinese Bar ...

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 9:28 am

Comedian Jesse Appell performs at a club in Beijing. Appell won a scholarship in 2012 to study comedy in China and has been performing on the country's small but growing stand-up comedy circuit.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

When American comic Jesse Appell first arrived in China, his intestinal fortitude was tested by Beijing street food. And that's become material his stand-up act, which was on display recently at the Hot Cat Club, a small but popular Beijing bar and performance venue.

"I ate at restaurants that hadn't been renovated in so long they still had portraits of [Chairman] Mao up on the wall," he says.

The Mao reference seems suitably ancient to the young crowd of expats, and they burst out laughing.

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3:58pm

Wed January 14, 2015
Parallels

One County Provides Preview Of China's Looming Aging Crisis

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 6:33 pm

Senior citizens eat dinner in the unheated dining room of their government-funded retirement home in rapidly aging Juegang Township, Rudong County, in eastern China's Jiangsu province. Just a few years ago, the town had only one such facility; now it has five.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

A decade from now, about 2025, experts predict that China's population will peak — reaching as high as 1.4 billion — and begin to steadily decline. Some of them are predicting that a shrinking, aging population could lead to a national crisis.

One way to peer into the future is to visit a county in eastern China that pioneered population controls a decade before the rest of the country — and is now feeling their impact.

Rudong County is in Jiangsu province, on China's east coast just north of where the Yangtze River empties into the East China Sea.

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5:03am

Wed December 31, 2014
Asia

2014 Got Off To A Tense Start For China

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 8:09 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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7:39am

Sun December 28, 2014
Asia

AirAsia Flight Goes Missing With 162 Aboard

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 11:07 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

5:05am

Wed December 3, 2014
Asia

Is 'Womenomics' The Answer To Japan's Economic Woes?

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 7:59 pm

Lumberjack Yukiko Koyama cuts pine trees on a hillside overlooking Matsumoto City in Nagano prefecture on Japan's central Honshu island. Koyama's employment at a local timber mill is partially subsidized by a government program to get more Japanese women into the workforce.
Yo Nagaya NPR

Yukiko Koyama kicked around Tokyo for a few years looking for the right job. For a while, she designed costumes for classical ballet dancers. But she longed to work in the great outdoors, and to find a job she could really sink her teeth into.

Two years ago, she found just the right thing for her: sinking a chainsaw's teeth into the pine forests of Matsumoto City in landlocked Nagano prefecture. Forests there on the central island of Honshu have been growing since the end of World War II, and many are in need of weeding.

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4:07pm

Mon December 1, 2014
Parallels

In China, One Woman's Challenge To The Legal System

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 2:55 am

Chinese customs officials, like the ones shown here in August at the Lukou International Airport in Nanjing, have broad powers to confiscate items. One woman who had copies of her father's memoir seized has sued the government.
Xie Mingming Xinhua/Landov

This year, significant legal reforms have tried to make China's judiciary more accountable, and make it easier for citizens to sue the government.

But those changes may not take effect soon enough to help Chinese citizens who are punished without being told exactly what they did wrong.

One Chinese woman is suing the government for what she says is exactly this predicament.

The case will go to trial even as China is taking unprecedented steps to reform its legal system.

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4:21pm

Wed November 5, 2014
Asia

Chinese Tech Company Combines Multiple App Types Into One — At Great Profit

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 10:23 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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12:58pm

Tue November 4, 2014
Parallels

The App That Helps The Chinese Masses Mobilize Online

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 6:32 pm

China's WeChat messaging app has a huge audience that allows Chinese to organize online.
Petar Kujundzic Reuters/Landov

The mobile messaging app WeChat has taken China by storm in the past couple years, swiftly becoming the largest standalone-messaging app, with more than 300 million active monthly users.

It has an ever-growing array of functions, from text and voice messaging to photo sharing. Perhaps most importantly, WeChat users also have the ability to form groups of up to 500 people.

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5:15am

Tue October 14, 2014
Asia

China's Nomads Have A Foot In Two Very Different Worlds

Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 10:46 am

Zhaxi Cairang (right), a 59-year-old Tibetan nomad, moved to a city in western China 15 years ago as part of a government effort to settle nomads. But Zhaxi says he plans to return to herding yaks next year. His son Cicheng Randing was raised in the city, but his father wants to expose him to traditional nomadic life as well.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Zhaxi Cairang is trying to give his son a choice of two worlds to live in: the traditional, pastoral world of Tibetan nomads, which he has inhabited for most of his 59 years, or the modern urban lifestyle that most Tibetans experience in today's China.

Zhaxi made the transition himself about 15 years ago, when he left the grasslands and moved into the city of Yushu in western China's Qinghai province. Yushu sits on the eastern end of the Tibetan plateau. More than 95 percent of its residents are ethnic Tibetans.

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2:04pm

Sun October 5, 2014
The Two-Way

Occupy Central: Faces From Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Movement

Kenneth Chung in the Admiralty section of Hong Kong.
Anthony Kuhn NPR

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters are maintaining an uneasy vigil Sunday night at three main protest sites, despite authorities' deadline to pull back so that government offices and schools can reopen on Monday.

Demonstrators have defied previous ultimatums by the authorities to clear out, as well as pleas from politicians and university administrators to withdraw for their own safety.

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4:48pm

Wed October 1, 2014
Asia

Hong Kong Protests Offer A Revelation To Mainland Chinese

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 10:03 am

Pro-democracy protesters chant slogans as they gather next to the central government offices in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
Alex Ogle AFP/Getty Images

The government of China has described the protests that have gripped Hong Kong for the past five days as illegal and chaotic. Any mention of the demonstrations is quickly erased from the Internet. At the same time, many mainland Chinese, in the territory for business or tourism, are observing the protests with interest and often amazement.

It's not hard to pick out the mainlanders in the crowd. They're usually the ones speaking Mandarin, instead of the dialect most Hong Kong residents speak: Cantonese.

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4:14pm

Mon September 29, 2014
Asia

Hong Kong Protests Pick Up Steam After Weekend Clashes With Police

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 6:30 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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8:20am

Fri August 8, 2014
Parallels

China's President Says His Anti-Corruption Drive Is Deadlocked

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 10:42 am

"The two armies of corruption and anti-corruption are at a stalemate," China's president, Xi Jinping, reportedly told a closed-door Politburo meeting in late June.
Jorge Silva Reuters/Landov

There's been much to-do about China's anti-corruption drive, and the leading example of that effort has been the downfall of a man who was once one of the country's most powerful officials, ex-security czar Zhou Yongkang.

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2:20pm

Thu July 31, 2014
The Two-Way

Flight Delays In China Leave Travelers Feeling Squeezed

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 3:43 pm

Passengers packed the waiting hall Tuesday at Hongqiao Railway Station, which services a terminal at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

Air travel in some of eastern China's busiest airports has slowed to a crawl over the past week or so, stranding thousands of travelers and igniting debate about the increasing competition between military and civilian flights for the country's airspace.

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4:09pm

Tue July 29, 2014
Asia

Beijing Begins Apparent Corruption Probe Into High-Level Official

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 7:31 pm

China has begun investigations into one of the country's senior politicians. Zhou Yongkang was a former domestic security chief, and he's suspected of "serious disciplinary violations" — a phrase which usually stands for corruption.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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